NC Native Plant Society:
Plant Details

Aristida stricta [= Aristida stricta var. stricta]

Carolina Wiregrass, Pineland Three-awn

Scientific Name:

Aristida stricta [= Aristida stricta var. stricta]



Species Epithet:


Common Name:

Carolina Wiregrass, Pineland Three-awn

Plant Type


Life Cycle


Plant Family

Poaceae (Grass Family)


NC Native

Invasive Status:



1-3 ft.


Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:

Dry, Moist, Wet

Bloom Time:

September, October, November

Growing Area:

Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plain

Habitat Description:

Coastal Plain pinelands of nearly all sorts, ranging from the driest white-sand sandhills to seasonally saturated pine savannas dominated by a mixture of longleaf pine and pond pine, largely or entirely replaced in the wettest savannas by Sporobolus teretifolius, Sporobolus pinetorum, Muhlenbergia expansa, Ctenium aromaticum, and Calamovilfa brevipilis; also in Piedmont areas adjacent to the Coastal Plain and formerly supporting fire-maintained longleaf pine woodlands. Common in NC coastal plain, rare in piedmont. Endemic to NC + SC.

Leaf Arrangement:


Leaf Retention:


Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:


Life Cycle:


Wildlife Value:

Important for Wildlife

Landscape Value:

Not Recommended for home landscapes

State Rank:

S4: Apparently secure, S5: Secure (*Key)

Global Rank:

G4 - Apparently Secure, G5 - Secure (*Key)


Weakley (2015): "A. stricta was the keystone species of much of the upland Coastal Plain of the Carolinas. Its flammable foliage facilitated the spread of lightning-set fires that maintained the biologically rich pine savanna, sandhill, and pine flatwood ecosystems once widespread in our area. Though still locally common in parts of the Sandhill region and in portions of Brunswick, Pender, Onslow, and Carteret counties, NC, A. stricta is much rarer than formerly. The conversion of vast acreages of former pinelands to agriculture, pine tree farms, and developed areas has taken its toll over the years. In the twentieth century, suppression of fire has also led to the destruction of A. stricta. More recently, pine-straw raking is leading to the serious decline of A. stricta in its few remaining strongholds on public lands. A. stricta has little tolerance for ground disturbance."
Highly flammable, so it should not be planted close to houses and other structures.

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USDA PLANTS Database Record

NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox:

Vascular Plants of NC:

700 Bird-friendly Plants for NC:

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